Category Archives: Marathon

Chicago Marathon 2016

And just like that, marathon weekend was here. Steve, Kai and I managed to be up and on the road Saturday morning before 8:30am, which is huge and highly impressive for us. We made the drive down to my brother’s condo, and didn’t hit traffic until the last few miles where there is always a back up. My mom and Joe had arrived about an hour before us, and Mike and his wife Omoleye retuned home from the store a few minutes after we got there. We decided to walk to a new to them (and us) restaurant for brunch called G & O.

I was boring and ordered eggs, toast and potatoes because I am always worried about how my system is going to handle race day. Steve had a burger and Kai had a waffle. The food was delicious, and I would love to eat here again and order something a little more adventurous. After brunch, we headed back to the condo and put Kai down for his nap. Steve and I then took the train to the race expo to pick up our stuff. We had to walk about a mile from the train to McCormick Place, then what seemed like another mile inside the massive building. We got our packets and glanced at a few things in the expo, but it was very crowded and we opted to be in and out rather quickly.

We walked back to the train and I texted by brother asking him to pick us up at the stop near his house (which we were apparently made fun of for since it is only 1/2 mile, but we already felt like we had walked a ton and I wanted to get off my feet as much as possible). Kai woke up just as we got back and after he had a snack, we walked a couple blocks to a park for him to run around for a while.

We went back to the condo around 5pm so Mike and Omoleye could start making dinner. They made a delicious looking baked pasta dish (which sadly I did not try because pasta does not agree with me before running). I baked a sweet potato and had that with half a chicken breast, sautĂ©ed kale and marinara sauce. Omoleye also made a carrot cake for my mom’s birthday which was the day before, which I had to pass on but I did take a piece home after the race. We put Kai to bed shortly after 8pm, and he took forever and a day to fall asleep in his pack n play. We were all sleeping in the same room, so I couldn’t go in and go to bed until he fell asleep, which was well after 9pm.

I had probably the worst night of sleep I have ever had before a race. Between hearing Kai throughout the night, sharing a small futon with Steve, and pre-race excitement there was little sleep to be had. I was already wide awake at 4:30am, 10 mins before my alarm was set to go off. I got up and tip toed out (Kai woke up and said “I cheer mama daddy,” and I had to tell him it was still dark outside and not quite time to cheer yet :))

I drank my coffee, got dressed, made sure I had everything I needed in my drop bag, and around 5:40 I woke up my brother to drive us to the train (thanks Mike!). I ate a banana in the car, and had two more with me to eat at some point before the race. We rode the train with some other racers, and then we were deposited just a block or two from Grant Park. It took us a while to get through the security check and into the park, I think it was about 6:40 by the time we got through. I ate another banana while we were waiting. We went straight to the gear check and dropped off our bags, and then lined up for the port o potties. I got two bites in on my last banana, but I just couldn’t do it. The lines are crazy, and after a while I became nervous about even making it into the starting corrals before they closed at 7:20. Luckily, we got to the front of the line around 7:15. I said bye and good luck to Steve (we were in different starting corrals), emptied my bladder, and made it into corral B just in time, as the national anthem was playing.

Next thing I knew, everyone was moving forward and it was time to start! I didn’t feel very nervous, just excited to run my favorite course on a perfect day. Seriously, it was highs in the low 60’s and clear. The first few miles wind through downtown, and between the tall buildings and running under some bridges, GPS watches don’t really work so it was hard to know what pace I was running. My watch told me I was ticking off miles in the low 7’s, but I knew I wasn’t running that fast. In actuality, my average for the first 5k ended up being 8:07, which was slower than I planned but I was happy with myself for not going out to0 fast.

After the first 5k, my pace dropped into the 7:30’s and stayed in that range through the half way point. I knew that I would see my family sometime just after mile 14, so that was my only focus. The miles were ticking by fast and when I hit mile 14 I got a little choked up knowing I would see them any second. I saw Joe first, as he was a little bit ahead of everyone else, then I saw my mom, Kai, Mike and Omoleye.

I was so excited to see them! I veered off the course so I could give Kai a kiss. He was so cute sitting in his stroller just looking at all of the runners. I am positive he wouldn’t have actually seen me if I hadn’t stopped, and it was totally worth the 5 seconds.

I headed back out with a little pep in my step, but I also knew I wouldn’t see them again until mile 25 (if they could even make it there).

They waited for Steve to pass through mile 14 and saw him a short while after me.

Best cheer squad:

The next couple miles flew by and I remember hitting mile 16 and thinking holy cow, I only have 10 miles to go! (Ha. The foreshadowing. Hint: there is no such thing as ONLY 10 miles to go in a marathon). At mile 18 my legs did not feel great. My pace slowed into the low 8’s, then the mid 8’s. I was struggling, but I knew I could still finish in a pretty good time if I just kept running. Looking back now, I think I was crazy dehydrated from taking in too many salt tablets, despite drinking water at every aid station. I took 5 of them over the course of the race, which is about what I would do if it was 85 degrees outside and I was sweating like crazy. When my legs started to cramp, I took more to try to alleviate that issue (which usually helps), but I think it actually made things worse. I wasn’t lacking in nutrition, having taken in 4.5 gels as well, so I really think it had to do with the salt.

I got a boost at mile 21 running though Chinatown because the crowds there are awesome and there is so much energy. By mile 23, my good old GI system decided to act up on me. I debated stopping to use the bathroom, but I just wanted to finish the dang race and never run a marathon again. I ended up walking most of mile 24. Every time I would try to run, I was moments away from pooping my pants (TMI, sorry just keeping it real), so walking it was. There was an aid station one mile from the finish, and I realized it was either use the bathroom there, or walk slowly to the finish line whilst clenching my butt cheeks. I used the port o potty, felt much better, and was able to run it in at sub 8 min pace again. Around mile 25.5, I heard my cheer squad yelling from the opposite side of the street. I waved like a maniac and couldn’t believe the race was finally just about over.

I was so happy to cross the finish line and stop running. I finished in 3:37:12, about 12 minutes over my goal time. I really thought I could finish in the 3:20-3:25 range. Here are my official splits:

The finishers area at Chicago is huge and probably about a half mile long. I got my space blanket, medal, food, etc. and made my way through to the other side. After another bathroom stop, I picked up my gear bag and walked slowly to the runners reunite area where I would be meeting Steve and my family. It was super crowded and I just plopped down on the grass by the letter C and figured someone would find me. I got my warm clothes on and tried eating a few pretzels. A short while later, Mike and Omoleye found me. I was so glad when they told me that my mom, Joe and Kai were waiting to cheer on Steve (they never saw him) versus bringing Kai into the crowds at the post race area. They took the train back to the condo while we waited for Steve.

Side note: Kai’s favorite part of the entire weekend was riding on the train. He got to do it twice, and both times he didn’t want to get off and wanted to “go fast again.”

After a while, Steve finished and made his way towards the meeting area. He had some problems with his ankle during the race and wasn’t able to run as fast as he wanted to either.

Finishers!

And a photobomb on the way out. We took the train back to the condo, and I was elated to find out that Mike parked his car at the train stop so we wouldn’t have to walk the 1/2 mile back. We called in an order of Thai food on the way back. Steve and I showered and then I devoured two bowls of pad thai. Unfortunately we had to get everything packed up and head home right after lunch. It was after 3pm by the time we hit the road and Kai had not taken a nap. We said our goodbyes and headed out, and Kai was asleep approximately 4 seconds into the drive.

This race was almost surreal for me. I was so excited for it (it had been 8 years since I last ran Chicago!), and then it went by so fast it was almost as if it didn’t happen. Later that night at home, I told Steve that while my legs could tell I ran a marathon, I couldn’t believe it was over and just like that we were home. The last 6 miles of the race were really tough, and all I could think about was how happy I was that I didn’t have to run another marathon for a very long time (or ever). Now I feel like I totally have to do this race again next year. Ha. The course, the spectators, everything about it is just awesome. Until next time Chicago…

 

 

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Running lately

Wait, is this supposed to be a running blog? Ok, prepare for a post that is not about Kai, this one is all about me 🙂

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I couldn’t wait to, well, not be pregnant so I could get back to running. I waited the full six weeks (almost) after delivery to run, and I started back slowly. I started running with Kai in the stroller when he was really tiny, because we had the infant seat adaptor for the BOB stroller.

What, you thought I was going to post without some pictures of Kai? Ha.

Throughout the fall, I logged a lot of miles with the stroller. I would most often run in the morning to get Kai to take a good nap. At home he would nap for no longer than 30 mins at a time, but in the stroller I could often get over an hour. I ran as long as he would sleep, and if he was still napping when I got home, I would do circles around the neighborhood until he woke up. I was regularly running 7-9 miles with the stroller and feeling good. By late fall, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight (though it was distributed differently) and my clothes were fitting great, including jeans.

I had grand plans of busting my butt to train for a spring half marathon. I knew it wouldn’t be a PR race, but I hoped to get some speed back in my legs. I already had the endurance from all of the slow miles with the stroller, I just needed to add in the speed work. I set my sights on a late March half marathon, and wrote out a training plan. As the weather got cold, we started to make use of the gym daycare, and most of my running shifted to the treadmill or the track at the gym. The track is 11 laps to a mile, so not ideal, but I did some easy runs on there until all of the constant turning started to mess up my ankles. I love doing speed work on the treadmill, so I was excited to get going.

The week my training plan was to start in earnest, I got sick. I ended up with a cough that lasted at least 3 weeks, and while I was able to run easy, I did not start any speed work. As the weeks went by, my motivation waned. I did get out for a few longer runs on the weekends of 10 miles or so, but they were painfully slow. I eventually did get started with some speed workouts on the treadmill, but since I never signed up for the race and knew it was too late to be ready for it, I was never consistent with training. Then recently I strained my calf during an easy run which basically put me out for another two weeks. I swam a lot during those weeks and wondered if maybe I should do a triathlon this year, even though I wasn’t planning on it originally.

Now my calf is fine, and I have started to build up my running mileage yet again. I feel slow and heavy, likely because I ended up gaining 8 lbs back over the winter. I always tend to pack on the pounds in the winter, and it didn’t helped that I stopped nursing right around the first of the year. My clothes don’t fit, I don’t feel good running, and I have no races on the horizon besides the marathon I signed up for on November 1st. I have a couple halfs in mind that I would like to train for, but nothing set in stone. I really miss working with a coach, but since I am not working a ton right now (and babies are expensive), it is not in the financial cards. Wow, this sounds whiney.

I guess where I am going with this is that I need a goal. I need something to light a fire under my butt. I need to sign up for something to get me going. And I suppose that is the answer I was looking for when I started writing this out. I am going to do a little research, look at race dates, and actually sign up for one. I am also doing a “healthy eating challenge” with a friend of mine starting yesterday. We never really hammered out exact details, but for me it means curbing my sweet tooth and finding healthy snacks, as well as cutting down on eating after dinner (ie. dessert), even if it is something healthyish like greek yogurt. I know I feel my best when I am eating well and running consistently, and I am ready to do my best to make it happen. And come November 1st, I will have a new marathon PR.

Me and my sidekick after yesterday’s run on a 70 degree March afternoon!

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2013 Lakefront Marathon (aka Cindy’s First Marathon)

You may recall that last year I coached Cindy to run her first trail half marathon. It was not long after that race that Cindy asked me if I would coach her and run with her in this year’s Lakefront Marathon, her first. Knowing that my big race season would be over after Ironman Wisconsin, I happily agreed. We spent the following year preparing her for the marathon, and as the day approached, I was so excited to get her to the finish line.

Those that know Cindy will tell you that she is one of the most upbeat, friendly, outgoing, kind people on this planet. Her positive attitude is infectious, and her energy knows no bounds. To say that she was excited in the days leading up to the race would be a slight understatement. She kept assuring me that she was not nervous, she trusted her training, and she was just ready and excited to get the show on the road. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little pressure as her coach to get her to that finish line. I never doubted for a moment that we would do it, I was just hoping for things to go well throughout the day.

We met at Cindy’s house at 5:30am on race morning to get a ride to the start in Grafton. The race is a point to point course from Grafton High School to Veteran’s Park on Milwaukee’s Lakefront, and I was grateful not to have to take the race shuttle (yellow school bus) to the start. We arrived at the school with plenty of time to spare before the 7:30 start. We hung out in the gym doing last minute race prep until it was showtime.

(none of these pictures are mine, so thank you in advance to my Facebook friends from whom I stole them :))

Before we knew it, it was time to head outside to the start line.

Pre-race with Cindy and Liz (Quick shout out to Liz, another one of my athletes who absolutely ROCKED this race with a 35 min marathon PR!!)

My plan for the race was simple. Because Cindy’s goal was to finish and she didn’t have a time goal in mind, I wanted to make sure we started very easy and then slowed down as little as possible. I was the only one wearing a Garmin, and I had 5 hours in the back of my head as a feasible goal. Cindy’s friend Greg also decided to run with us, as he was recovering from an injury. So we listened to the National Anthem, and then our little entourage was off.

The first few miles went by quickly. Cindy was so excited to be running, I had to reign her in a little bit. Each time we hit a mile marker she got excited all over again. I was so happy that she was feeling good, and I couldn’t help but laugh every time she yelled out to the spectators that it was her first marathon. Speaking of spectators, I know without a doubt that Cindy had more people out there cheering for her than any other racer, hands down. We never went more than a mile or two without seeing friendly faces. The course is very spectator friendly, so it was easy for people to see us, drive a little bit down the road, and see us again. Greg ran with his video camera and was able to get a ton of footage and pictures throughout the race.

Pretty sure Brian winds the spectating award for this:

It was smooth sailing until around mile 16, when we hit a little bit of a rough spot. Cindy started having some tummy issues, which she has never experienced before in training. I think the nerves and excitement leading up to the race took a toll on her digestive system, and we had to make a few potty stops. I knew she was hurting, and I did my best to talk her through it and manage the situation. As she continued to feel worse every time she would try to put any nutrition into her system, I told her no more gels, just water and salt tabs. Even gatorade was causing problems. I told her that she was going to starting feeling depleted, but it was better than the alternative.

Once we passed mile 20, I knew we were “over the hump,” and even if we had to do a lot of walking, we would finish. Somewhere around mile 21-22, there was a lady standing at the end of her driveway with a bowl of pretzels. Cindy looked at me and asked if she should try eating some, and I said yes. I had a feeling that maybe something solid would help her stomach. She ate one tiny pretzel, and it must have been made of magic, because about 60 seconds later she was back to running strong. She told me she felt better and we pushed ahead. I was so relieved at this moment, and just hoped that she would continue to feel good through the finish.

We took a few walking breaks in the final miles along the Lakefront, and with 3/4 of a mile to go, I told Cindy no more walking, let’s finish this thing!

Coming down the finishing chute was awesome. Cindy got a surge of energy and picked it up to the finish line. The next photo pretty much sums it up.

I wish I could bottle up the joy in that moment. We finished in 5:11:03, and I have no doubt that without the tummy issues, we would have come in under 5 hours. I was so proud and so happy that I played a part in helping Cindy to achieve her goal.

We did it!!

During the race when things got tough, I told Cindy that when we hit mile 22 I would tell her a story to keep her going. The thing is, Cindy tells me all the time that I inspire her, especially when she came to cheer for me at Ironman and saw me dig deep and finish even though I was feeling absolutely terrible. At mile 22, I told Cindy that while I was training for Ironman, there were times during my long runs when I wasn’t feeling the greatest and just wanted to stop, walk home and eat ice cream. During those tough moments, I would often picture Cindy and I running this marathon. I would picture her crossing the finish line, and I would get goosebumps. It never failed to put a spring in my step, and I never quit a long run. So I told her that while I may inspire her, it is also she who inspires me with her enthusiasm and determination to set big goals and live them. While this may not have been close to my fastest marathon, it was one of my favorites, and one that I will never forget. Of all of the finish lines I have crossed, I don’t think anything can top this finish line moment.

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Rock N Roll San Diego

Last weekend I travelled to San Diego with Team in Training to coach at the RNR San Diego Marathon. We had a great group from WI ready to tackle the full and half marathon races. We got into San Diego before 10am thanks to our 6am flight and a two hour time change. Luckily they let me park my yacht right outside the hotel. It’s right behind that little boat.

After getting checked into the hotel we headed next door to the race expo. After having our fill of plenty of free samples, we found out that Chrissie Wellington was going to be speaking as part of the tour to promote her new book, A Life Without Limits. In case you don’t know, Chrissie is without a doubt the greatest female triathlete in the world. She is undefeated at the Ironman distance, having won 13 times, including 4 times at the world championships in Kona. She also happens to be one of the most smiley and genuinely enthusiastic people I have ever met. That’s right, I met her!

Clearly we are now bff’s. She signed a copy of her book to me, and I cannot wait to read it. She is so inspiring.

Speaking of bff’s, later that day we happened to run into my favorite marathoner Deena Kastor.

Deena will be running at the 10,000 meter Olympic trials in a couple of weeks. She also had a baby just a year ago and is the tiniest person I have ever met. Once I was sufficiently geeked out on spotting incredible endurance athletes (we saw Ryan Hall too but didn’t get a chance to meet him), it was time for dinner.

We decided to eat at one of the restaurants at our hotel to make things easy. My portobello mushroom sandwich was good, but the star of the show was obviously dessert.

That would be Bruce about to dig into a warm brownie baked in it’s own cast iron skillet, drizzled with chocolate, and topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Here is a close up for the full effect.

I think I fell asleep in approximately four seconds once my head hit the pillow on Friday. It was a long day.

Saturday we took it pretty easy to get ready for race day on Sunday. We attended the TNT Inspiration Dinner on Saturday night, which was great. Over 2500 TNT athletes raced on Sunday, raising 7.3 million dollars for blood cancer research. Pretty amazing.

After dinner I decided to do a little bit more fueling at the frozen yogurt shop that was conveniently located right at our hotel.

What? This coaching stuff is hard work!

Sunday started with a 3am wake up call since our team planned to meet in the lobby at 4am on Sunday to catch a shuttle to the race. I was so excited for my WI team to rock the race. We hung out at the start for a while before I wished everyone luck and they headed into the starting corrals.

I met up with another TNT coach from Santa Cruz and together we figured out how to take the trolley to our assigned station at miles 19-23 of the marathon. As we were walking to our position we saw the race leaders fly by mile 22.

They were not even sweating. It wasn’t too long before we saw the female leader with a decent lead.

Once we were at mile 19, it was time to wait for the TNT purple jerseys to start coming through. We didn’t have to wait long, there were some fast people out there. Whenever I saw a purple jersey, I would try to run with them for a bit and see if they needed anything. Some were feeling great, and some were struggling big time at this point. That far into the race, you never know if someone is going to want the company or if they would rather just be alone and get through the thing. Most people were grateful for whatever I could give them, whether it was water, gel, salt, or just words of encouragement.

I couldn’t wait to see my guys come through, and I was careful not to miss them in the loop section that I was in. Pretty soon I saw Mike, who ended up rocking a big PR. I ran with him for a mile or so and then headed back to catch the others. Pretty soon my two other guys were running towards me together. I was so pumped to see them. Colin was feeling good and decided to continue on his own, while Bruce was having some trouble with his leg cramping. I stuck with him and told him to just keep moving forward. I ended up running with him all the way to mile 26 because I couldn’t bear to leave him struggling. He was in so much pain, his back was killing him, and I am so incredibly proud of him for sticking it out and finishing his first marathon.

I ran back to my zone and tried to catch as many purple jerseys as I could. As the 7 hour cutoff neared, the coaches started to gather near the finish line in preparation for the “Sea of Green”. The coaches wear green jerseys, and we all get behind the last TNT finisher and walk them across the finish line.  The chant of “Go TEAM, Go TEAM” as we walked gave me goose bumps. From the back:

And the professional view from above:

What a seriously cool experience.

I am guessing I put in somewhere between 20-25 miles between running and walking throughout the day.

There wasn’t much time to rest by the time we got back, so we did the next logical thing, which was meet at the hotel bar. From there it was to the TNT victory party where we got our fill of snacks, and then it was out to walk around a little bit. There was a cool area right by the hotel called the Gaslamp District.

We had a celebratory beer. I am ashamed to say I could not finish my 24 oz mug.

Of course the night would not have been complete without one last stop.

Refueling at its finest right there.

I always knew Team in Training was a great organization (I ran my first marathon with them in Alaska back in 2003), but after being part of such a huge national event where there is inspiration everywhere you turn, I am even more proud to be a part of it.

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Trailbreaker Marathon

Saturday morning marked the 20th running of the Trailbreaker Marathon. I signed up for this race to use it as a training run, but as it grew near, I was itching to see what I could do. A little speed work never hurt anyone, right? This is a pretty small race, with only 143 runners taking on the full marathon. There is also a half marathon and 5k, which both drew record numbers this year.

The marathon is mostly on a paved bike path, but for about 6 miles it veers into the Ice Age trail, and the turnaround point is at the top of Lapham Peak tower.

(photos from when Steve and I did our trail run together back in January)

I have been running this section of the Ice Age Trail all winter, so I knew exactly what to expect during the race. Start time was 8am and the race was only about a 15 minute drive from home, so I slept in until 6am. I did the usual coffee and toast with peanut butter, banana, honey and cinnamon. I gathered all of my stuff and left the house around 7:10. Parking was easy right by the recreation center where packet pickup was. I got my stuff in no time, dropped my bag back at the car, and waited inside for the start.With about five minutes to go, I headed outside with a few friends. We lined up, listened to the national anthem, and it was time to go.

I settled into a comfortable pace pretty quickly, and was really pleased with averaging around 8:10 per mile over the first twelve miles. I had taken Thursday and Friday as total rest days, and was hoping that was enough to put a little spring in my step after last week’s 50k. The first eleven miles are flat and paved, and I was plugging along. Around mile seven:

I did something for this race that I have never done before, and that is listen to music. I do in training about half of the time, but never in a race. I knew that this course was going to be really boring though, and that there would not be a lot of people around. I was really glad to have the distraction. For the first eleven miles I listed to the Bon Iver album on repeat. It is really mellow and sort of soothing, perfect for the surroundings.

Once I got onto the Ice Age Trail, I turned it off. I have never run on trails with music because I have never felt the need. It is also narrow and rocky, and I wanted to be able to hear other people coming up behind me. I was able to take off a little bit on this section because I knew the trail and what was coming. I wanted to hold some speed on the flat section before I started climbing. When the hills came, I slowed considerably, especially on the staircase leading up to the base of the tower. I was beat by the time I got up there. Can you tell?

I took my time climbing the tower, rang the bell at the top, and started back down. On the way back the trail was a little more congested with cross traffic, but I settled in behind a couple of guys and moved right along. I think the toughest part of the race was the transition off of the Ice Age Trail and back onto the paved bike path. It felt jarring, and I immediately missed the soft trail under my feet. I knew that the last ten miles were going to be long and boring, so I turned my music back on and set it to shuffle. Around mile 17 and 18 I was getting worried, because 8:30 pace was starting to feel like quite an effort. I made it a point in this race to take in a lot of gel, which I am normally really bad at. I brought six with me with the goal of eating all of them. I ate five, which is still a lot for me. I should have taken one more towards the end, but I just didn’t feel like it.

Just when I thought it was going to be a slog to the finish, I somehow kicked it into gear. It must have been either the music or an energy gel that led to mile 19 clocking in at 7:34. I had my eyes on a woman who had passed me a while back. She was quite a ways in front of me, and I was pretty sure there was no way I could catch her, but I didn’t let her out of my sight. From there, the miles ticked by and I was shocked to be running well under 8:00 pace this late in the race. The last six miles were fun because the marathoners caught up to the half marathoners on the way to the finish. I was able to start picking off a lot of people, which gave me a little boost. With about 1.5 miles to go, I passed the woman I had been chasing and decided I would give it my all to the finish. A couple minutes later I saw another woman that I knew was running the full and snuck by her as well. I finished in 3:36:44, and ended up 4th female overall and 1st in my age group.

That’s only about 7 minutes off of my marathon PR in Boston last year, and that’s with an 11:47 mile climbing up to the tower and running a 50k last weekend. I think I might have to sign up for a fall marathon and see if I can break my PR.

The race helped me finish off the month of March with 271 miles, which is a new record for me. Over the next three weeks I plan to maintain high mileage, which will be capped off with a 35 mile training run on April 21st. From there we are headed on vacation to North Carolina where I will start tapering down for the 50 miler on May 12th. I can’t wait!

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Lakefront marathon day

Today Steve and I were on duty as volunteers at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. We reported bright and early at 7am for finish area set up. Our first order of business was setting up tables in the food tent. Then it was time to unload all of the food from a truck.

There were boxes upon boxes of bananas, oatmeal cream pies, nutty bars, twix, granola bars, pita chips, peanut butter crackers, cheeze-its, chocolate milk, and soda. It kind of made me wish I was running just so I could partake in the junk-food buffet.

Our next task was to unload and organize the 3000 runner drop bags.

They had to be sorted and organized in numerical order so the volunteers could easily locate each one after the race. This took forever and I was glad when we were done.

The food tent was a little short on their own volunteers, so we headed over there to help out for a bit before we left.

We set up the beverage tables and then got to work on opening all of the food and dumping it into boxes so they could be grabbed easily and put into the runner bags.

Being on Twix duty made me hungry, and I had to exercise restraint not to stuff some in my pockets. I just had to remind myself it’s for the runners, it’s for the runners…

Finally after 3.5 hours, we were off duty, so we met up with Cara to watch for her husband Mike near the finish line. Before too long we spotted him about to finish strong.

Mike broke 3:30 which was an awesome PR for him. Go Mike!

After hanging out for a while near the finish, we were famished. Luckily the custard stand down the street was open for their last day of the season. We walked over and refueled after our strenuous volunteer duties. I was so hungry you’d think I ran the marathon. I had a delicious veggie burger with avocado.

And a swirl cone, obviously.

Sorry that picture is so creepy. By the time we walked home I was so exhausted I immediately passed out on the couch for an hour. When I woke up it was still so nice out I couldn’t resist going for a short run. I love fall days like this!

Sun + running + custard + fall = love.

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Green Bay weekend

Over the weekend Steve and I headed up to Green Bay to volunteer at the marathon as part of a cheer team for Team in Training. We got there on Saturday afternoon and headed to the race expo to meet up with the group. The expo was held at Lambeau Field, which was pretty cool.

We got to check out the field, which seemed way smaller in person than it looks on TV with a packed house.

This is probably the only time in my life I will be setting foot in here (unless I someday run the Green Bay marathon), so I captured the moment.

Saturday night was spent eating at the pre-race pasta dinner (only because we got free tickets), hanging out in the hot tub at the hotel, and drinking beer. In case you haven’t noticed, I did away with my clean eating for the weekend. I could not resist having a big chocolate chip cookie at dinner, they were just calling my name. And did I mention free? I enjoyed every last bite.

Sunday morning we awoke bright and early to cold temperatures and high winds, but at least it was not raining. I was so glad I was not running, because the wind was brutal, gusting up to 45mph. We met up with the rest of our cheer team and headed to our first station at mile 6. The cheer team’s responsibility is to cheer for every single TNT participant when they pass, and then move on to the next station. As you can imagine, we were out there for a while, with 50 or so participants in the half-marathon and 11 in the full. I was equipped with my Boston cowbell (I knew that sucker would come in handy) and a TNT sign.

I had so much fun cheering for everyone. Besides TNT participants, I actually knew quite a few people racing, and I cheered my face off for everyone. Our second stop was at mile 21. This was right at the end of a 5 mile long stretch for the marathoners headed straight into the ferocious wind. Many people were looking defeated, and many just pissed. I felt so bad for them, as wind has to be my absolute least favorite running condition. We cheered for everyone as they passed, and finally the last TNT-er came by.

We stopped briefly by the finish line to say goodbye to the TNT staff, and then it was time to head home. I was so exhausted that I promptly passed out in the car. I love cheering at races because I know how much of a boost it can be for the racers. I think all runners should go out and spectate or volunteer at a race to give back to the whole running community. Plus it’s a blast!

In other news: I am back on the sauce. My beloved coffee that is. And I don’t even feel bad about it because Dr. Oz says that coffee is chock full of antioxidants and up to 24 oz a day is good for you. I am going to try to stick to just one cup in the morning so I can learn moderation.

And finally, today is officially day 1 of Ironman training. I was up bright and early at 5:30am for a date with my bike trainer. Let the two-a-day workouts, perpetual exhaustion, and non-stop eating begin!

Have you ever cheered at a race?

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Filed under Food, Fun, Marathon, Travel, Triathlon